Open Forum

Where you can't be off-topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Guarneri says:

    So I hear Nadler’s Circus had John Dean in as a “non-fact witness,” just there to provide context and parallels. Cool. Only saw snippets but I sure hope he got the smoking gun:

    Letters in Nixon’s name: 5. Agnew: 5 Pence: 5. And Trump?……..: 5! Aha!!! Whoomp, there it is !!! Whoomp, there it is!! Its Watergate all over !!

    If the Dems want fact free witnesses when do they bring back Avenatti, or did he wear out his welcome at CNN and MSNBC?

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @Guarneri: So tell us again your theory as to why Trump keeps meeting with Putin without witnesses? Why his son in law attempted (succeeded?) in creating a back channel through the Russian embassy, avoiding anyone in the US government knowing about their communications? Why he lied continuously about his Russian contacts and business dealings, lied to you and all the other Trumpers?

  3. MarkedMan says:

    Really good analysis at TPM on how the last 70 years brought about a sea change in how the Supremes view the constitutional protection of religion, from solely being about the freedom to believe (but not to act) to where we are today where a state had to have a compelling interest to proscribe actions. They trace a line from the 1947 case where two Jehovah’s Witnesses school children were allowed to forego a state law mandating the pledge of allegiance, to the present day conservatives’ go-to move of claiming religious exemptions when they want to continue to discriminate.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:


    If the Dems want fact free witnesses

    If DEMs wanted fact free witnesses, they’d call anybody from the trump admin. Or you.

  5. Kathy says:

    Despite the mild disappointment of Simak’s “Highway of Eternity,” I’m following it up with Simak’s “City.” This is a collection of stories loosely related, all set in the same universe. They were collected into a book, with notes added between stories to make them mesh.

    The gist of the notes is that the stories are part of a legend or myth, about the either vanished or non-existent humans, as told by, and for, dogs.

    It’s really odd to read scholarly discussion citing scholars named Rover or Bounce 🙂

    BTW, I just adore Scribd. This is not a paid ad, just an invitation to grab with both hands while the grabbing is good, because I don’t see this service going on for too long. As of now, for $9 a month I can read any ebook or audiobook in their collection, and they have some recent issues of a few magazines as well.

    Their collection is nowhere near as extensive as what you find on Amazon and Audible, but I’ve found more than enough to keep me interested, that I’ve 6 Audible credits gathering digital dust while I peruse Scribd.

    The downside is that you borrow or rent the books, not buy them. You can download them to your phone, but you don’t own them. If you cancel, you lose access to them. Audible and Kindle sell you books, not just access to them, so you can hear or read them any time after you cancel.

    Currently aside from “City” I’m listening to Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now”

    After “City,” I think I’ll take a break from written SF and check on “Why Airplanes Crash” case stories past 2001 by Silvia Wrigley (I follow her blog, Fear of Landing, and have read some of the earlier books).

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: The problem is that Drew doesn’t really care about any of this bullshit. All he knows is that he can say ludicrous stuff and get you to respond with other stuff that he also doesn’t care about. He then runs away (figuratively) saying


  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Fair enough. Here’s a question though: who was Drew and why do you think G-man is his latest incarnation

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    Independence Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Monday June 11, 1787

    Mr. KING remarked that it was uncertain what mode might be used in levying a national revenue; but that it was probable, imposts would be one source of it. If the actual contributions were to be the rule the non-importing States, as Cont. & N. Jersey, wd. be in a bad situation indeed. It might so happen that they wd. have no representation. This situation of particular States had been always one powerful argument in favor of the 5 Per Ct. impost.

    The question being abt. to be put Docr. FRANKLIN sd. he had thrown his ideas of the matter on a paper wch. Mr. Wilson read to the Committee in the words following-

    Let the weakest State say what proportion of money or force it is able and willing to furnish for the general purposes of the Union.

    Let all the others oblige themselves to furnish each an equal proportion.

    The whole of these joint supplies to be absolutely in the disposition of Congress.

    The Congress in this case to be composed of an equal number of Delegates from each State.

    And their decisions to be by the Majority of individual members voting.

    If these joint and equal supplies should on particular occasions not be sufficient, Let Congress make requisitions on the richer and more powerful States for farther aids, to be voluntarily afforded, leaving to each State the right of considering the necessity and utility of the aid desired, and of giving more or less as it should be found proper.

  9. Gustopher says:


    Audible and Kindle sell you books, not just access to them, so you can hear or read them any time after you cancel.

    No, they don’t. They license for your lifetime, and put a lot of restrictions on it. You don’t own it, you cannot resell it, and if Amazon goes under you lose it all.

    And the controls can be intrusive. You cannot copy more than a small snippet of text from the kindle app on your phone. And if you have 25 kindles (or phones, tablets, etc) you cannot put your favorite book on all of them, and have to remove it from some old one to put it on the new one — a nuisance if you end up with a lot of devices over a 10 year period for some reason.

    I find being able to adjust the font for my old tired eyes to be a compelling enough feature that I put up with the rest, along with notes carried across devices, but I still resent all the restrictions.

  10. Kathy says:


    No, they don’t. They license for your lifetime,

    I didn’t know that.

    When I started on Audible I had, no kidding, a Blackberry phone, which could run the Audible app, but was concerned about rumors of loss of app support. I found then you could burn a downloaded audiobook to CD, offerd as an option by Amazon, though it would take several disks per book as it was on WAV files.

    I don’t think that’s a choice any longer.

    I did know about the other restrictions. They don’t affect me much.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: You’ve got me interested in Scribd for audiobooks. I don’t want to own my books and am happy just to rent them. In fact, I get most of my books and audiobooks from the public library, and if I get a book as a gift, after I read it I donate it to the library or give it (not loan it) to a friend. I just did a quick review and saw that 4 John Scalzi audiobooks are available there, versus two from my public library. And one of those is a sequel with the first book in the series unavailable. Tons of Doctor Who versus almost none. And the Preet Bhara book I still have several months of waiting list for, is available immediately. That might be the biggest advantage: stuff available immediately. I tend to put a bunch of stuff on hold, then it all hits at once and I don’t get to everything. Frustrating to me and frustrating to those farther down the wait list

  12. Kathy says:


    You can browse the catalog before subscribing. That’s what I did.

    I’ve read some audiobooks on Scribd that I would not have paid for in Audible, such as Harari’s “Sapiens” and Hawking’s “Brief Answers to the Big Questions.” So there’s that aspect as well. On Audible in particular I’m reluctant to spend a credit on books worth less than a credit, or on shorter books.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Drew is the original screen name for Guarneri. Beyond that, it’s a boring story that I don’t remember all of the details of any more.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    And if you have 25 kindles (or phones, tablets, etc) you cannot put your favorite book on all of them, and have to remove it from some old one to put it on the new one — a nuisance if you end up with a lot of devices over a 10 year period for some reason.

    Aha! This explains why one of my current ads on my Kindle is “Trade in your Kindle for a new one.” Thanks! That clears up why I’m getting this ad.

    ETA: I should note that I only got a Kindle because it’s much smaller than books are and that because I never buy a book not on clearance, the restrictions don’t trouble me.

  15. Kathy says:

    Is it just me, or are these threads getting shorter?

    I just finished watching “Troy: Fall of a City” on Netflix. It’s an 8-part miniseries based on Greek myth. I watched it mostly to later hear the podcast review by Jeff Wright, called “Watching Troy Fall,” since I loved his “Trojan War The Podcast.”


    While many of Jeff’s criticisms are valid, he seemed especially upset when the story went off-script (making things up not in the traditional Trojan War legend). In particular one whole episode dealing with tunnels the Trojans were digging to reach their allies nearby. This in order to get food from their allies.

    Ok, the idea of digging long tunnels is a bit loopy, but it made story sense to me at the time. after all, if the siege is going to last for years, you’d need a source of food besides whatever stores the Trojans had at the outset. Homer provides no explanation (the Iliad starts in the last year of the siege).

    But what I took to be an attempt to plug a plot hole turned out to be something else. First Hector and Paris sneak past the Greek patrols to contact their allies and urge them to dig from their side. Ok.

    Then Achilles (!) infiltrates Troy disguised as a Trojan soldier, tries to complicate the Paris-Helen-Menelaus situation, and elicits some information from Helen, who unwittingly talks too much.

    Long story short, by the next episode Achilles and his Myrmidons attack Troy’s allies, kill Andromache’s father, and for some reason don’t find, or don’t use, the tunnels the allies were sending food through.

    This sets up the Briseis affair later on, and that involves a very explicit take on Achilles’ relationship with Patroclus. It also sets up a sub-thread about Helen, spies, Pandarus, Paris, and Andromache (mostly off-script). And the siege lasts nowhere near ten years.

  16. Guarneri says:

    For those interested in more than bar room analysis. Now I must admit. At this blogsite I think that will be zero.

  17. Guarneri says:


    Here’s some help, genius. Dodd Frank. Now, you know that I know that you have absolutely no idea what that really means, being the dim bulb you are. But that’s the reason.

    As for the choice of Guarneri. My stereo system speakers are Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolutions accompanied by twin 2’s REL subs. Audio Research amplification. Miles Davis never sounded better……………..

  18. Guarneri says:


    Keep whippin’ it MM. Whip it good. You need to focus on a certain Durham. No BS, no scope limitations. He’s your worst nightmare.

  19. Guarneri says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Here I am, zero. I apologize if I have better things to do than camp out here all day long.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Guarneri: Not sure about the other things you are going on about, but I have to admit to being fascinated by high end audio. Twice in my life I’ve walked into a room and thought I was listening to someone playing live on a beautiful piano. Once was in a high end audio store and the other time was in a mid-range Baltimore waterfront bar/restaurant. But both times it turned out to be KEF speakers

  21. Jax says:

    @Kathy: They are getting shorter. I suspect it’s partially because it’s summer, kids are home all day long and hopefully everybody is maintaining their sanity/enjoying themselves. 😉

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Jax: I suspect it’s also inversely proportional to how many other posts there are. As the open forum post moves down the list it gets less attention

  23. @MarkedMan:

    I suppose it depends on how one reads the posts. I keep track of the blogs I follow using an RSS Reader (yes, they still exist and if you’re interested in using one Feedly is the best one I’ve found in the wake of the loss of Google Reader). In that case, the posts are still available and the number of posts per day isn’t really an issue.

    I also think that a point made above is probably true. With the start of summer, it’s not uncommon to see traffic slow down a bit, including comment traffic. One solution would be to make the Open Forum post “sticky” so that it stays at the top of the home page for at least 24 hours.

  24. Jess says:

    Rape cover-ups by Jehovah’s Witnesses as exposed on NBC Dateline:Watch

  25. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: I have come to the realization that I’m really not an audiophile. I can tell the difference in sound quality from a good speaker system to what comes out the sides of my iPad Pro, but I just don’t care. Not enough to futz with Bluetooth settings anyway.

    Now, my old iPad… that sounds awful. So I have some minimum requirement, but it’s pretty low.

    Bad kerning, on the other hand, that just drives me crazy. I had a coworker who went to Brown, and had the coffee mug that said BROWN, and there was so much space between the O and W that I wanted to smash his mug, by accident, and then replace it with one that had better kerning.

    I assume that being an audiophile is like having that feeling all the time. It must be hell.

  26. DrDaveT says:


    Bad kerning, on the other hand, that just drives me crazy. I had a coworker who went to Brown, and had the coffee mug that said BROWN, and there was so much space between the O and W that I wanted to smash his mug, by accident, and then replace it with one that had better kerning.

    I feel your pain, brother.

    A few years ago, my company replaced their reasonably-cool-if-geeky logo with a new logo, consisting solely of the 3-letter acronym of the company name. In Copperplate Gothic Bold, fer Chrissakes. With the kerning screwed up.

    It is… abomination.

  27. James Joyner says:

    @Kathy: @Jax: @MarkedMan: @Doug Mataconis: There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the number of comments the Open Forum postings attract. There have been 33 of them thus far.

    Initially, they came out on Sundays and Wednesdays: 70, 67, 89, 33, 31, 78, 49, 74, 73, 102, 48, 62, 43

    Then I switched to every other day: 53, 43, 29, 31, 28, 70, 32, 68, 63, 33, 41, 36, 17, 26, 51, 28, 43, 33, 26 (27 with this comment), 44 and counting.

    One suspects ones that hit on the weekend do better and that it depends how much the front-pagers are posting and providing avenues to talk about specific controversies.